A search is underway for the body of a man who drowned at Abrams Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park this afternoon.
According to park spokesperson Dana Soehn, personnel were notified just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2016 that 58-year-old Jitendra Patel, of Roswell, Ga., was hiking with a group of friends when he slipped into the water near Abrams Falls and last surfaced about 12:15 p.m. after his friends attempted to pull him from the water.
“Park rangers responded to the scene at 2:08 p.m., but were unable to locate the individual,” said Soehn.
Divers with the Blount Special Operations Response Team responded to the scene at about 5:00 p.m. for a recovery attempt. No other information was available.
Abrams Falls is a popular destination in the park and is located a moderate 2.5 mile hike from the trailhead on Cades Cove Loop Road. Water rushes over the 20-foot waterfall into a pool that is about 100 feet long by 70 feet wide, but the calm surface of the pool is deceptive as the swift moving water creates a circling current below.
“Due to strong currents and an undertow, swimming in the pool at the base of the falls is extremely dangerous,” the park’s website warns regarding Abrams Falls. “Swimmers have drowned here!”
Despite the warnings, people often swim in the pool and as this video shows, even recklessly jump in the pool from the top of Abrams Falls.
Nublan Zaki Norhadi, a 20-year-old student from Pennsylvania State University, drowned in the pool at the base of Abrams Falls in May 2009. The location was also the site of drowning events in 2006 and 2004.
UPDATE: Great Smoky Mountains Park Rangers and the Blount Special Operations Response Team recovered Patel’s body at approximately 8:22 p.m.
Photo: Chris M Morris [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/391634805